Each year, the Virginia Office on Volunteerism and Community Services and the Virginia Service Foundation annually shine a light on individuals serving in national service programs who have shown a passion for those they serve and exhibited outstanding dedication to their commitment to service. These honors, which traditionally have been awarded at the annual Virginia Volunteerism Conference on Service and Volunteerism, were delayed last year due to the COVID-19 outbreak. We are excited to announced that the following six individuals have been named as recipients of these awards for 2020.
Winners of the 2020 Virginia National Service Awards:
Bobby Flournoy, Senior Services of Southeastern Virginia
AmeriCorps Seniors – Senior Companion of the Year – Senior Companions are volunteers age 55 and over who make a difference by providing assistance and friendship to adults who have difficulty with daily living tasks, such as shopping or paying bills. For Bobby Flournoy, his service as a Senior Companion has not only benefitted the clients he serves, but has brought him out of his comfort zone and expanded his drive to help others. One of his clients considers him to be “family” now as he makes sure he gets to his local recreation center and supports him in his activities there like water aerobics and walking the track. The other, a client in hospice and former Companion, is able to feel comfortable letting his wife continue her service as a Companion because he has the support of Bobby. He has shown extreme dedication and compassion for his clients – event changing senior centers to accommodate his client. Additionally, Bobby is always spreading the word about the Senior Companions program and has helped recruit four new Companions!
Ann Garner, Bon Secours Memorial Regional Medical Center
AmeriCorps Seniors – Retired Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP) Volunteer of the Year – RSVP allows seniors to share their skills and talents while serving in a variety of volunteer activities. Having served more than 3,500 hours since she began volunteering at Bon Secours Memorial Regional Medical Center (MRMC) in 2013, Ann has become to mean so much more to the hospital than a traditional volunteer. As a general service volunteer, escorting patients around the hospital and delivering flowers and lab specimens are only part of her role. She has produced countless positive changes through her great rapport with everyone at the hospital and by serving as an example for other volunteers in proper procedures. Always willing to volunteer when the hospital is short-handed, she always maintains a positive attitude and willingness to help out however she may be of service.
Catherine Moore, Peninsula Foster Grandparent Program
AmeriCorps Seniors – Foster Grandparent of the Year – Foster Grandparents are role models, mentors, and friends to children with exceptional needs. Catherine has been active for her entire life. At 89 years old, she has been active in her church and community and is a caregiver for her own siblings who are also in their eighties. For the past 24 years she has also served as a Foster Grandparent in Hampton. Compassionate and encouraging, Catherine interacts with her students in such a way that they feel safe and supported. She rarely misses her service hours and is an avid recruiter for the Foster Grandparent program. When asked if she would consider retirement, Catherine says she can’t imagine her life without the children, teachers, and administrators she has worked with over the years.
Blake Vogel, MENTOR Virginia – Communities in Schools Chesterfield
AmeriCorps VISTA Member of the Year – AmeriCorps VISTA (Volunteers in Service to America) members bring their passion and perseverance where the need is greatest: to organizations that help eradicate poverty. Blake has very quickly become an invaluable part of MENTOR Virginia’s team at Communities in Schools Chesterfield (CIS). Right away she assessed the needs of nine schools in the district, researched best practices for mentoring program administration, and began working to support the development of their programs. In addition to her amazing work organizing this project, she created a special program focused on helping Latino students including a peer-to-peer mentoring group and food/resources for their families. In addition to all that, Blake approaches her VISTA service with humility, compassion, and a keen eye presenting her work like a seasoned professional.
Berta “Abbey” Tarqui, Aspire! Afterschool Learning
AmeriCorps State Member of the Year (Robert E. Wone Award for Exemplary Service) – The Wone Award was established in memory of Robert E. Wone, who served on the Governor’s Advisory Board on Service and Volunteerism from 2002-2006 and dedicated his life to volunteering for charitable organizations and offering pro bono legal service. The award recognizes an exemplary AmeriCorps member who has exhibited the same dedication to community service and civic engagement as did Mr. Wone. Abbey was instrumental in creating a successful volunteer program for Aspire! Afterschool Learning, an after school tutoring and enrichment program for students. In her role as the volunteer coordinator, she was able to solidify the number of recurring volunteers and recruit diverse volunteers at four program sites. Additionally, she helped organize a MLK Day volunteer book drive event which generated 1200+ books and had double the volunteers over the previous year! She also strengthened retention by initiating a monthly newsletter, developing a robust training and onboarding program, updating the volunteer handbook and materials.